Moti Mahal dinner and wine

Jun 17, 12 Moti Mahal dinner and wine
Grand Trunk Road cookbook

Grand Trunk Road cookbook

Not long ago I was invited to Moti Mahal for a Taittinger dinner and was pleasantly surprised by how well champagne went with Indian cuisine. Not long afterwards, I wondered how well Indian food went with other types of wine and so found myself invited back at Moti Mahal to see if it wasn’t just champagne that could stand up to the spicy flavours and aromas of India.

Moti Mahal was originally established in Delhi back in 1959 where it was one of the few fine dining establishments in India. Moti Mahal came to Covent Garden in 2005 and Head Chef Anirudh Arora is very much inspired by the Grand Trunk Road of India. The Road is one of the oldest and longest roads in S.E. Asia, running Bengal to Afghanistan. As you can imagine, the cuisine varies as much as the road itself. Anirudh wrote a cook book highlighting the forgotton recipes of the road in collaboration with Hardeep Singh Kohli. The book is available online and Anirudh uses some of the recipes at the restaurant.It’s a beautifully photographed book and just leafing through my copy was enough to  make my stomach rumble.

But, I digress. The dinner we had was called the Awadh Menu and it’s a menu based on the Princely States. Tandoor glazed homemade fennel paneer, tandoor roasted jumbo prawn, spicy lamb kebabs, king fish simmered in tangy curry,stir fried chicken masala, black lentil dahl, crispy fried lotus stem and raita along with an assortment of breads and rice – phew! This was a meal fit for a King.

Bengal Tiger cocktail

Bengal Tiger cocktail

We started the meal with champagne cocktails, I had the Bengal Tiger which listed cumin as one of it’s ingredients, along with Black Smirnoff Vodka and passionfruit pulp. It was deliciously fragrant and an indication of the flavours and aromas to come. The meal also came with a very fresh tomato and veg salad that you made yourself at the table. The ingredients were humbly presented on a wooden board. It was very simple but oh, so delicious.

salad board

salad board

homemade fennel paneer

homemade fennel paneer

The wine pairings were not quite what I was expecting but the 2010 Hamilton Russell chardonnay from South Africa was a clear winner with the tandoori dishes. Despite having a good amount of oak, the wine is finely balanced and served to enhance the spices of the dishes. The fact that it was not overly acidic with a creamy mouthfeel also helped it. I didn’t quite think it went with the lamb kebab but with such a variety of dishes, you’d be hardpressed to find one white wine that could do it all.

tandoor roasted jumbo prawn

tandoor roasted jumbo prawn

We had a  Cotes du Rhone Domaine Les Aphillanthes 2007. While I do like Rhone reds, myself and my dinner companion didn’t quite think that this wine was a great match. On it’s own, the wine is great but other than with the fried lotus root with peanut and coriander, I would have preferred a lighter red, perhaps a Beaujolais cru – Chenas or Fleurie possibly.

stewed pineapple dessert

stewed pineapple dessert

The Coteaux du Layon St. Aubin Domaine des Forges 2010 was served with a stewed pineapple and molasses, pistachio rice pudding. I’m not normally a fan of rice pudding but this one was not a soggy mess and was delicately but intensely flavoured. The Coteaux was not too rich with loads of ripe, rich tropical fruit notes but still retaining a healthy dose of acidity to wash everything away.

I’d give Moti Mahal a big thumbs up for taking the chance on doing a food and wine pairing with their cuisine, the Hamilton chardonnay standing out head and shoulders from the rest. Of course, there is always the Taittinger champagne which I found to work across the board with the cuisine at Moti Mahal ;)

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